Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities

Applications for ISHum are reviewed on a rolling basis. Please see the Program Requirements page and the ISHum Application for information on applying.
Program RequirementsISHUM Application

ISHum Students

Here is some of the exciting work our alumni are doing:
PhD in English, Cornell University

Youth Career Programming, Learning for Life

Studio Art Teacher

PhD in English, University of California Riverside

MA Program, University of Chicago Divinity School

Director, Project Harmony Israel

Editorial Assistant, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Software Engineer

Managing Editor for a Marketing Agency

Web Developer

Fellow, Mishkan Chicago; Educator, Jewish Enrichment Center

Here is what our alumni are saying about ISHum:

“I wish I had found ISHum sooner. The BA Project benefitted me more than almost anything else I did in my undergrad career. ISHum let me explore myself, dive into a project and a course of concerted study that I was truly passionate about, and further develop my worldview and outlook on life, morality, and my path into the future. I had been following an ISHum course before I even knew it existed, taking courses that related to my passion and eventually my project while being stressed that I might not find a concentration that fit me. It saved my undergrad career, helped me graduate, and prepared me for grad school and my future career interests. I can’t overstate its benefit to me.” (Geoffrey, Class of 2010)

“ISHum gave me the freedom to explore many of the disciplines that interest me. It enabled me to combine and apply skills from disparate fields toward a multidisciplinary focus. It encouraged me to ask good questions and pursue the things that really inspire, drive, and fascinate me.” (Nicholas, Class of 2013)

“A lot of the work I am doing now works across the disciplines, particularly literature and film, and so it was important to have a BA project in undergrad that encouraged these types of combinations. What I remember most, though, was how few requirements the major had, allowing me to really build the course list that I wanted. This was key to exploring a range of topics/time periods/media that a normal English major wouldn’t have offered. Finally, ISHum allowed me to bring together my favorite faculty at UChicago without worrying if they were all within the same field.” (Zachary, Class of 2012)

“I chose to be an ISHum major because I wanted to study mythology, folklore and fairy tales, so my major prepared me very well for the children’s publishing industry. But beyond subject matter, this degree especially helped me connect disciplines (and any sort of topic, really) to its relevance within children’s literature and how one can affect the other.” (Liz, Class of 2011)

“It taught me to follow my own interests and passions, and to be self-motivated, regardless of requirements in a highly structured institution.” (Sara, Class of 2010)

“ISHum was a huge benefit to my career as a Software Engineer. I wanted to work for a software company, but I knew that the Computer Science department was very much the wrong choice for me. ISHum gave me the confidence and leeway to follow my own instincts, to independently study what I was passionate about, and ultimately to pursue knowledge that would actually benefit me in the job market. It turned out my particular combination of abilities and tendencies was far better suited to the working world than the academic environment. ISHum allowed me to feel positive about forging my own path which diverged from the academic norm at UChicago. It paid off, and I was hired for a high-paying job in the 2nd quarter of my 4th year. I was a student who needed freedom and flexibility in my degree plan in order to surpass the after-college threshold with sure-footed steps.” (John, Class of 2010)

“My ISHum major helped me really hone my analytical research and writing skills, in addition to exposing me to different fields of knowledge.” (Anna, 2013)

“I think the people I met changed my life the most–I still live and work with several friends I made at the U of C. I think it was immensely valuable for me to craft my own major because it prepared me for the messy and interdisciplinary task of being a creative person in the world working in multiple fields at an intersection that doesn’t quite exist yet.” (Eliot, Class of 2010)

“Hearing my new friends complain about the empty ritual of their college experiences has given me an appreciation for the tremendous freedom I had as an ISHUM undergrad…I got to study what I wanted, how I wanted, and I had to defend it, explain it and amend it again and again. I believe in the value of my college education in part because, for better or worse, I chose it…I got to learn and research in ways that helped me discover and commit to my own intellectual curiosities. I feel like ISHUM made me not just a better scholar, but a more thoroughly realized person. Declaring my major was the beginning and not the end of my academic adventures.” (John, Class of 2013)

2009-2014 Graduates & Theses:


Christine Donaldson, “On Poetics,” and poems

Erin Fitzgerald, “In Defense of Inactivity: An Exploration of Artistic Block through Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev and Modernist Painting”

Grace Gleason, “Toward a New Theory of Nonviolence”

Mox Schults, Guest Host (poems and an essay)

Nathan Worcester, Last Against the Nightfall (graphic novel / multimedia project)


Nicholas Cassleman, Æffect and “The Design, Analysis, and Theory of Æffect” (video game and essay)

Calen Cole, “Fools that Will Laugh on Earth: A Bakhtinian Study of Voice, Embodiment, and Ideology in Hip-Hop”

Grant Dowling, “How Episode Nine of James Joyce’s Ulysses Reclaims the Formal Potency of Plato’s Socratic Dialectic that Scientific Philosophy Lost”

Anna Dozor, A Tragedy of Lightness (art installation)

John Fisher, “Self-Transformation: Ambivalence, Commitment, and Community”

Anna Karadzhova, “The Meeting Place of Chairs, Philosophy, and Art: Interpreting Martin Heidegger on the Encounter of the Contemporary Work of Art”

Tara Nooteboom, “Pompidou as Palliative?: Questioning the Exhibition Strategies at the MNAM and Influences in the Museum Space”

Taryn Strohmeyer, “Mourning for the Victimhood of Perpetrators: The Allied Fire Bombings of Germany”


Nabila Abdelnabi, “The Reality Effect: Exploring the Ontological Implications of Analog to Digital Photography”

Alexis Chaney, “All Shook Up: The Relationship between Adolescent Girls and Teen Idols in Twentieth Century America”

Kate Chiu, “A Dérive Kit, or Pilsen’s 18th Street: Negotiating a Palimpsestic Landscape

Erica Fagin, “Mapping Translations”

Molly FitzMaurice, “Fairy Tale Beddings: Bruno Bettelheim and the Beastly Bridegroom

Alec Gross, “How Can We Affirm Life? Mindfulness Meditation vs. Nietzsche”

Zachary Price, “Monstrous Consumption: Examining the Gothic Monster in Videodrome

Eli Sentman, “Crescat Fabula Vita Excolatur: Identity Creation Through Storytelling at the University of Chicago”


You Chung Chang, “Pale Fire As a Tragedy”

Delphine D’Amora, “Experimental Understanding: Some Thoughts on Writing about Literature”

Aaron Halper, “Mathematics and Plato’s Parmenides

Elizabeth Kossnar, “The Reinforcing Nature Between Rituals and Beliefs in Relation to Vampire Folklore”

Nicole Lipitz, Moth and Firefly (art/writing project)

Hannah Manshel, “‘This is a paper about Mary Gaitskill . . .'”

Marie Otsuka, “Relations in Artistic Meaning: A Comparative Study of Metaphors, Pictures, and the Philosophy of Love”

Daniel Owings, “Sin, Cave, and Self: Socrates and John Calvin on Image and Reality”

Claire Rabkin, “An Ethical Literacy: Relationships with Language in Text and Discourse Modes of Writing, Reading, and Performing the Contemporary”

Meg Sullivan, “The Emergence of Restorative Justice in Deeply Divided Societies: Israel-Palestine and South Africa as Case Studies”

Alexander Shulan, ““The Unheard Music”: Heidegger on Being and Presence”


Anastasia Barron, “Excess, Ethics, and Excrement: An Affective Trip Through the Work of Vladimir Sorokin”

Laura Burgos, “Trifles and Old Wive’s Tales

Eliot Feenstra, “I Love You, You Freak: Entertaining Difference at the Psytrance Festival”

Geoffrey Gawne, “Violent Heroes and What They Teach”

Karina Gonzalez, “Christian Boltanski’s Lycée Chases: Faciality, Monument, Trauma”

Ryan Harte, “Action, Dialogue, and Death in Confucius, with Assistance from Arendt, Hadot, and Plato”

Saree Kayne, “The Devouring Publicity of Life: Henry James and Henrietta Stackpole”

Aileen McGroddy, “Reaching Out: A Journey in Community Arts Programming”

Eliza Rose, “The Folding Triptych: Reading Bruno Schulz with Danilo Kiš and David Grossman”

Sara Tamler, “Repairing Traumatic Histories: Sharing and Surviving the Gaze in Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit the West

John Wood, “Computer Media, Generative Art, and Discovery”


Chris Aque, “Dislocating the Everyday: Resituating Space as a Response to Spectacle in Contemporary Art”

Kate Casey, “Re-examining Reality: Picasso’s Las Meninas, August 17th 1957”

Neal Curley, “Between Site and Sight: Locating Self-Identity in Photographs”

Sarah Gallagher, “Genetic Patenting: Stakeholding in a Biomedical Context”

Natasha Hodnett, “You Are My Home: The Possibility of Dwelling-Within-Another Through the Writings of Emmanuel Levinas”

Ben Kauffman, “The Readerly Being: Readership, Time and Nabokov”

Sarah Kull, “Crime and Confession in Dostoevsky: The Moral Argument in Notes from UndergroundCrime and Punishment, and Demons

Matthew Landback, “Borg Buddy”/”The Uncanny” (video piece with critical paper)

Aliza Levine, “Freed Men, Free Soil, Free Markets: Raced Discourse of Labor and Property in the Slaughterhouse Cases of 1873”

Hannah McElgunn, “The Immortal Oscar Wilde: A Study of the Memorial as the Epicenter of Myth”

Maria McElwain, “Ladies and Light: Exploring the Comparison Between Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Albert Einstein’s Thought Experiments”

Plamena Pehlivanova, “The Decline of Trust in Post-Communist Societies: The Case of Bulgaria and Russia”

Danielle Tcholakian, “Stories” (fiction)

Anne Sauer, “The Monster in the Closet: Monsters as Representations of Self-Denial in Gothic Literature”

Matthew Vance, “Toasts” (poems)

Announcements for ISHum Students

First Winter Quarter Evening Discussions on Feb 19 & 25

Our first autumn Evening Discussion for 4th years in the ISHum major will be split into two nights, each discussion will take place at the following times and locations: Tuesday, December 19 at 5pm in the Booth Atrium Monday, December 25 at 6:30pm in Regenstein rm....

Second Evening Discussion on Nov 6

Our second autumn Evening Discussion for 4th years in the ISHum major will take place on Tuesday, November 6 at 7pm in Regenstein room 503.

ISHum PRISM Workshop Oct 18 at 7:30pm

ISHum will host a PRISM workshop entitled "Communicating Your Major, Professional Interests, & Transferable Skills" for current ISHum majors in Harper 141 on Thursday, October 18 at 7:30pm.